Su Lum: Slumming
When I returned to work after lunch the other day, I found the book titled Delice Recipe and Scrapbook on my desk and gave a screech of joy as I leafed through it and saw that it was full of Walter Hubers secret recipes, with step-by-step directions.My first job in Aspen was as secretary to Curt Chase, Jim Snobble and Buzz Bainbridge at the (then) Aspen Skiing Corporation, whose offices were housed in what is now McDonalds, right around the corner from the Delice Pastry shop, where New York Pizza is now.I was newly pregnant with my second daughter, Hillery, and in a state of perpetual starvation. By 9 a.m. I had eaten my lunch and by 10 I was hearing the siren call of the Delice. My bosses were usually up on the mountain, so I would creep out, run around the corner and creep back to my desk with as many goodies as I could afford. Truth was, I couldnt afford any of them, but I was hooked.Now here is a book that shows me how the make all of them: apple strudel, butterflies (elephant ears), custard, cream puffs, clairs and even Sarah Bernhardts, those delicious chocolate-covered mounds of chocolate moose/truffle on a meringue pedestal my mouth waters to think of them all for the making.Officially retired for the last time, the exuberant Walter Huber, one of Aspens originals now nearing his 85th birthday, gave the OK for his daughter Cynthia Vodopich to reveal the recipes, a project she has worked on for the past three years. It might sound simple enough, just gather the recipes and print them up, but all the recipes were by weight, in amounts large enough to feed the hordes of Delice addicts, all of which had to be pared down to quarter cups and teaspoons for the amateur cook. Then test bake, adjust, test bake again (and sometimes again), photograph the process and the finished product, and try to explain it in words as well.This is not a cookbook for sissies. Cynthia warns us to read the entire recipe in advance. I began with my favorite, the Butterflies. Also known as elephant ears, palmier, pigs ears or papillon, this was our No. 1 selling pastry. We had customers who preferred them very lightly baked, and others that liked the darker ones, when the sugar has truly caramelized. We even had one gentleman who we often gifted with the ones that we considered burnt beyond all hope.Cynthia walked me through the process with her words and photographs and, taking the short cut of pre-made puff pastry (available in the markets), produced my very own elephant ears. I havent been prouder since giving birth to my daughters.This book is full of Aspen history, sprinkled with local photographs as well as the how-to pictures. Even if youre a non-cook, youll enjoy Cynthias writing style and her stories about this family bakery business that spanned almost 50 years.Copies are available at Explore Booksellers; Aspen Book Store in the Little Nell; Town Center Booksellers in Basalt; Delice Cookbook, Box 5544, Eagle, CO 81631; or phone Cynthia at 970-401-3533. They are well on their way to selling out the first printing, so buy now or face delay. And how long would you want to wait to bake your first elephant ears?
Su Lum is a longtime local who will keep the Delice Recipe & Scrapbook next to Mary Hayes Aspen Potpourri. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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